Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
MASHONALAND West’s road runners Jacob Mugomeri and Olivia Chitate from Harare put up a remarkable show yesterday to win the senior men and women National Cross-country Championships at Morris Depot.
Mugomeri stopped the clocks in 26 minutes 58,6 seconds to win the 10km men’s race which had more than 80 athletes competing.
Both the senior men and women competed in a 10km race unlike in the past when the former competed in a 12km race while the latter took part in an 8km race.
This comes after the International Association of Athletics Federations announced their reviewed rules and regulations.
The top three athletes in the senior men and women’s event will represent Zimbabwe at the Africa championships in Yaoundé, Cameroon, and Mugomeri said he is looking forward to the competition.
“It was tough, it needed mental strength and determination to win the race. I managed to take the lead in the second lap.
“For the Africa championships we want to do our best there because we will be representing the country,” said Mugomeri.
Second to cross the finish line was Bulawayo’s Isaac Mpofu in 27minutes 4.97 seconds and in third place was Tendai Zimuto from Harare in 27minutes 28seconds.
In the women’s section, Chitate retained her title for the third consecutive year in a time of 32 minutes 15.16seconds and the 28-year-old was happy with her overall performance.
“I am very happy because this is my third time winning the championships. So I am very happy for defending my title.
“This year it was tough because all the top athletes were around but when we went for the third lap I just gained confidence.
“I think I am going to the Africa championships and I am also targeting the Olympics. I am confident, I will qualify with the preparations I am doing. Right now I am preparing for a race in June,” said Chitate.
Constance Nyasango came second in 34 minutes 55 seconds and Bertha Chikanga settled for third position in 36 minutes 23 seconds.
Connisious Wenjere of Mashonaland East claimed the junior men’s 8km title in 23 minutes 31 seconds. He was followed home by Mukwananzi Dumo of Bulawayo in 23 minutes 50 seconds while Manicaland’s Tanaka Hove settled for third place in 24 minutes 11 seconds.
Masvingo’s Raviro Magomo was the first to stop the clocks in the junior women’s section in 18 minutes 19 seconds. They competed in a 6km event and on second place was Qhubekani Dube of Mashonaland Central with a time of 18 mintes 28 seconds.
Sheron Nkala from Matabeleland South finished third in 18 minutes 30 seconds.
The competition also featured cadets and they competed in a 2.5km race.
The boys title went to Evans Munhanzva of Mashonaland West with a time of 8 minutes 35.23 seconds while Caroline Janga emerged the winner in the girls category in 9 minutes 52.44 seconds.
National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe president, Tendai Tagara, said they were pleased with the quality and turn out as more than 150 athletes took part in the championships yesterday.
“I am delighted to announce that in eight years, we had the biggest number of participants for the cross-country event, especially the senior men, almost 89 athletes took part in this section. And we had the biggest crowd again in the junior men. This is a testimony of more athletes wanting to come back to athletics,” said Tagara.
Meanwhile, Tagara was not amused by the Harare Athletics Club as they hosted the Old Mutual Marathon Relay Challenge yesterday at Old Georgians Sports Club while the national association was holding cross-country championships.
“We have a motto in IAAF that says ‘we are a family. Clubs must obey the rules and regulations, athletes and administrators must obey the rules and regulations for governance. All clubs must comply, we will not tolerate people who just wake up and say we want to run athletics.
“We are the only organisation that can define what is athletics, so whoever wants to come to athletics must comply.
“At this moment may I call Harare (Athletics) Board to investigate one of your clubs why they had to run a competition on the same day that the federation is running a national competition. We will not tolerate that. Harare Athletics Club must be investigated and find out why they had to run a competition today without the authority.